When you think of celebrating the holidays, sweet treats, comfort foods, and holiday-flavored spirits may come to mind. Although it’s definitely ok to indulge a little during the holidays, too much of anything can sabotage your healthy lifestyle efforts. And with the new year rolling around soon, you should think ahead and make a plan. Because once this holiday season is over, the new year will surely bring about new celebrations with more food and drink temptations. And recent research shows that by drinking less alcohol, you could increase your chances for weight loss success.
What is a standard drink?
You may hear health experts urge you to keep your drinking to so many standard drinks a week. When this term is used, a standard drink is equal to:
- 12 ounces beer (5% ABV)
- 8 ounces malt liquor (7% ABV)
- 5 ounces wine (12% ABV)
- 1.5 ounces liquor (40% ABV)
So, when you order that tall beer at the bar and grill, keep in mind that 22 ounces is nearly equal to two standard drinks. And experts recommend that women should consume no more than 7 standard drinks a week. Also, men should consume no more than 14 standard drinks per week. Any more than this is considered heavy drinking.
Also, if you consume more than 4 standard drinks for women or 5 standard drinks for men in a two hour occasion, then you are binge drinking. So, if you feel like this describes your holiday or social events, then it may be time to visit you health care provider or call for resources in your area that can help you control or stop your drinking.
Alcohol health effects
Drinking too much in one night or over time can have serious health effects. Not only does alcohol impair mobility and speech in the short-term, but can also impact brain, heart, and liver health. Even short term, drinking too much can impair your immune system for up to 24 hours after becoming drunk. This puts you at higher risk for catching illnesses than others during this time. Also, long-term alcohol intake can lead to increased risk for inflammation of the pancreas and heart disease. Both of these conditions can place you at higher risk for hospitalization and serious illness.
Alcohol and weight loss
When it comes to weight loss, alcohol can stall your best efforts. First of all, alcoholic beverages contain unnecessary calories. No matter how low in carbs certain concoctions may be, you are still drinking your calories when consuming alcohol. Not to mention that alcohol can lower your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food you eat and can slow your body’s fat burning abilities. The latter is because the liver is in charge of tasks like fat burning and removing toxins from the body. It considers alcohol a toxin.
Therefore, when you drink, it has to stop fat-burning to focus on ridding of the alcohol toxins from your body. In turn, your body burns less fat while you drink. It takes about one hour for your body to break down one standard drink of alcohol.
A recent study looked at alcohol and its impact on long-term weight loss in those with diabetes. Study results show that those who did not drink during the four year study lost more weight than those who drank any amount. Heavy drinkers had even worse long-term weight loss than others. Therefore, researchers suggest that patients with type 2 diabetes especially should not drink alcohol if they are trying to lose weight. Needless to say, this study shows that anyone, regardless of health status, would benefit from drinking less alcohol.
Other ways to be healthier in the new year
Besides cutting down on drinking alcohol, there are also other ways you can be healthier this coming new year.
- Sleep more: Most adults should sleep at least seven hours a night for optimal health.
- Move more: Experts suggest that moving more each day, even in two minute spurts, for at least 150 minutes total each week, can benefit overall health.
- Manage stress: Yoga, meditation, or just talking with a counselor can help you manage stress better and lower risk for emotional eating that can lead to weight management issues.
- Eat more fruits and veggies: Antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies can provide inflammation-fighting compounds that can help lower your risk of diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Not to mention that the fiber from such foods is vital to gut health.
- Take a supplement: If you don’t feel you are getting enough nutrients in your diet, then take a supplement like Zestia by Vita Sciences. Zestia not only contains whole food vitamin and mineral sources, but also digestive enzymes and probiotics for digestive health.
-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD
- Bertoia, M. L., et al. (2015). “Changes in Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Change in United States Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years: Analysis from Three Prospective Cohort Studies.” PLoS medicine, 12(9), e1001878. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001878
- Centers for Disease Control (last reviewed March 29, 2018) “Alcohol and Public Health: Frequently Asked Questions.” https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm#heavyDrinking
- National Health Service (last reviewed July 26, 2018) “How long does alcohol stay in your blood?” https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/how-long-does-alcohol-stay-in-your-blood/
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (accessed December 18, 2018) “Alcohol’s Effects on the Body.” https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (accessed December 18, 2018) “What Is a Standard Drink?” https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink
- ScienceDaily (December 3, 2018) “Alcohol intake may be key to long-term weight loss for people with Diabetes.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181203115449.htm
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